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Otolith microchemistry as a stock identification tool for freshwater fishes: testing its limits in Lake Erie

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We evaluated otolith chemistry as a tool for identifying natal origins of potamodromous fishes using historical Lake Erie water chemistry (1983–2001) and yellow perch (Perca flavescens) otolith elemental composition (1994–1996) data. Lake Erie’s tributaries had stream-specific chemical signatures that were temporally stable. Correspondingly, the otolith microelemental composition of larvae collected from tributary embayments (Sandusky and Maumee bays) was shown to be geographically distinct and the use of known-origin juveniles showed that larval otolith microelemental signatures could be used to accurately identify natal origins and indicate fish movement. Discrimination between offshore spawning locations was relatively difficult, however, indicating limitations to working in systems that are dominated by flow from a single large river (i.e., Detroit River). Interannual variability in otolith microelemental signatures was high such that larvae from one year could not reliably classify natal location of larvae in another year. Development of an annual library of site-specific signatures and exploration of complementary ways to discriminate natal origins would improve the use of otolith microchemistry as a fishery management tool in freshwater systems.

Nous évaluons la chimie des otolithes comme outil d’identification des origines à la naissance des poissons potamodromes en utilisant des données de la chimie de l’eau du lac Érié du passé (1983–2001) et de la composition en éléments des otolithes (1994–1996) de perchaudes (Perca flavescens). Les tributaires du lac Érié possédaient des signatures chimiques spécifiques à chacun qui étaient stables dans le temps. De même, les compositions des otolithes en microéléments des larves récoltées dans les baies associées aux tributaires (baies Sandusky et Maumee) étaient géographiquement distinctes; l’utilisation de jeunes d’origine connue a montré que les signatures en microéléments des otolithes des larves pouvaient servir à identifier avec précision les origines à la naissance et décrire les déplacements des poissons. Cependant, la discrimination entre les différents sites de fraie au large était relativement difficile, ce qui indique les limites qu’il y a à travailler dans des systèmes qui sont dominés par le débit d’une seule grande rivière (c’est-à-dire la rivière Détroit). La variabilité interannuelle dans les signatures des otolithes en microéléments était élevée si bien que les larves d’une année ne pouvaient servir à classifier de manière fiable les sites de naissance des larves d’une autre année. La mise au point de répertoires annuels de signatures spécifiques au site et l’exploration de méthodes complémentaires pour distinguer les points d’origine à la naissance pourraient améliorer l’utilisation de la microchimie des otolithes comme outil de gestion des pêches dans les systèmes d’eau douce.

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: September 1, 2010

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  • Published continuously since 1901 (under various titles), this monthly journal is the primary publishing vehicle for the multidisciplinary field of aquatic sciences. It publishes perspectives (syntheses, critiques, and re-evaluations), discussions (comments and replies), articles, and rapid communications, relating to current research on cells, organisms, populations, ecosystems, or processes that affect aquatic systems. The journal seeks to amplify, modify, question, or redirect accumulated knowledge in the field of fisheries and aquatic science. Occasional supplements are dedicated to single topics or to proceedings of international symposia.
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